Nick Nardo gives back to community through Student Mural


When Nick Nardo was participating in the Landmark Education Self Expression and Leadership Program in New Jersey he wanted to connect with and contribute to his community. His project created a mural at the Second Street Youth Center in Plainfield New Jersey.

Here is the story from the Courier News in Bridgwater New Jersey.

PLAINFIELD — When it comes to painting a mural at the Second Street Youth Center, one Plainfield man refuses to act his age.

Nick Nardo, 55, volunteered to paint two 22-by-9.5-foot murals for the Plainfield building and has decided to use drawings by the youth center children as his inspiration.

“I’m a graphic designer — I’m not really a great draftsman, a great drawer — so I thought, ‘Why not just use pictures that the kids had made?’ ” Nardo said.

Nardo, currently enrolled in the Self Expression and Leadership seminar offered by Landmark Education in New York City, was called upon to complete a community project as a part of his coursework.

Painting is a hobby of Nardo’s, and he originally thought it would be possible to paint a mural in downtown Plainfield.

“I did a Google search. I searched for ‘Plainfield murals’ and found an ad on a United Way Web site where the director of the Second Street Youth Center had requested a volunteer or set of volunteers to paint a mural,” he said.

Nardo met with the center director, Frances Jones, and was approved for the job.

“We wanted to have a mural painted that leads from our dining room up the stairs and to the entrance of the center,” Jones said.

“Mr. Nardo is a very interesting man,” she said. “He saw the space, saw what we wanted, and he got right to it.”

Nardo said the process of finding a subject for the mural was a matter of trial and error.

“I scanned the drawings and began to compose the layout for the mural,” Nardo said. “I started seeing something emerge from the drawings — I don’t know if the teacher had directed the students, but I saw emerging themes of gratitude and giving thanks.”

Nardo said the captions on the drawings were particularly moving. Examples included “Thank You for the World,” “I love my home” and “I was happy at the park.”

Jones, who has been the director of the Second Street Youth Center for 10 years, first worked at the center in 1974 before leaving and returning again in 1997.

Nardo is dedicating the mural to Jones, who plans to retire at the end of the coming school year.

Nardo plans to paint a panel of the mural depicting the youth center children waving goodbye to Jones on her last day as director. He also plans to dedicate an inscription on the mural to her.

“She’s a great woman. She’s been there 10 years, and I wouldn’t have been able to do this without her,” he said.

Jones is equally complimentary of Nardo.

“He’s a professional in every sense of the word, and he’s really just a very gentle man,” Jones said. “Just knowing that he’s from Plainfield and wanted to give back to the community — it was just really nice.”

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